TNF: Week 13 Cowboys-Ravens Betting Preview, Picks, and Props
So, the other weird game of the week comes from the other team involved in last week’s multiply rescheduled Thanksgiving Primetime game. The Steelers, who played Monday at 5:00 pm, met the Ravens last Wednesday afternoon due to multiple players getting held out because of COVID-19 protocols. Baltimore was bit hard by the coronavirus bug, with more than a dozen players put on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Most have since been activated and are good to go for this home game against the Cowboys.
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So, just six days after throwing together a patchwork squad void of league MVP Lamar Jackson, their top two running backs, and a Pro Bowl tight end, the Ravens attempt to get back on track with a more familiar lineup. Jackson will return under center and will have JK Dobbins and Mark Ingram joining him in the backfield. One of his top weapons in the passing game, however, has not been activated. TE Mark Andrews will remain on the COVID list for at least one more week. Wideout Willie Snead will join his teammate in corona sickbay and miss his second-straight game as well. With the receiving core weakened, the Ravens have every reason to employ a steady ground attack.
Not only does Baltimore have a full complement of healthy running backs, but they have the league’s best rushing quarterback. The Ravens’ pivot is again leading his team in rushing yards with 575 yards on the ground. This coming on the heels of a season leading his team and finishing sixth in the NFL in rushing yards. That’s right, Jackson’s 1,206 yards on the ground in 2019 was bested by only five running backs, that’s right, I said running backs. The man is a machine.
Jackson won’t be the only guy running the football against the Cowboys. Expect a healthy dose of Dobbins and Edwards with a pinch of Mark Ingram. While Edwards will get his chances, Dobbins has established himself the lead back and should see the advantage in carries. The scrambling quarterback, along with all three backs, are undoubtedly smacking their lips for this tasty matchup with Dallas.
The Cowboys’ defense has struggled most of the year in general but have been particularly bad against the run. Dallas is giving up a league-worst 156.4 rushing yards per game this season. Those yards are coming in at the highest yards per carry average in the NFL at 4.9 yards per clip. On the other hand, the Cowboys have actually significantly improved against the pass after a horrific start to the season. Another reason sticking to the ground game is the way to go for the Ravens.
Where Dallas may be at an advantage is in the health, sharpness, and rest categories. It will be 12 days between games for the Cowboys following their blowout loss to Washington on Thanksgiving Day. As mentioned earlier, the Ravens played just six days ago, and many players returning from COVID haven’t fully practiced or practiced at all. One surprising face that was at practice this week was Dak Prescott. Of course, Prescott is out for the year but appeared as a spectator, perhaps lending moral support to his teammates.
One man who could use the support is Andy Dalton. The former Bengal will undoubtedly try to get the Cowboys’ air attack going. He’ll have all of his offensive weapons on hand, including bright spot CeeDee Lamb. The rookie receiver has been a pleasant surprise with 53 catches for 650 yards and four touchdowns this year. The Cowboys passing game, in general, has been somewhat of a surprise, sitting third in the league with 290.8 yards through the air per game. It’s not coming from a lack of trying as Dallas leads the league with 42 pass attempts each week.
Protecting Dalton from a good Ravens pass rush will be critical. Baltimore has 27 sacks on the year and is top five in QB pressures. Adding insult to injury, literally, the task gets even harder for Dallas with a banged-up offensive line. Tackles Zack Martin and Cam Erving are both sidelined with leg injuries. They’ll miss Martin, especially who is a six-time Pro Bowl selection at right guard.
Healthy O-line or not, the Cowboys will be throwing against a Ravens defense that’s better at stopping the run over the pass, especially if they find themselves getting behind the 8.5 point favorite early. While that may be the case, expect a rested Dallas team to hang in against a Ravens squad coming in following a week of chaos.
- Cowboys to cover 8.5 (-110)
- Cowboys over 17 total points scored (-116)
- Ravens winning margin of 1-6 points (+380)
- Andy Dalton over 34.5 pass attempts (-136)
- Lamar Jackson over 50.5 rushing yards (-110)
- JK Dobbins over 53.5 rushing yards (-110)
Quick Hit Trends
- Cowboys are 2-9 against the spread in their past 11 games overall.
- Cowboys are 1-6 against the spread in their past eight road games.
- Ravens are 0-4 against the spread in their past four games as a favorite.
- Ravens are 5-0 against the spread in their past five games in December.
- Under is 4-0 in the Cowboys’ past four games following an against-the-spread loss.